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Why Are More Boys Born During War? - Evidence from Germany at Mid Century

  • Dirk Bethmann
  • Michael Kvasnicka

    ()

In belligerent countries, male-to-female sex ratios at birth increased during and shortly after the two world wars. These rises still defy explanation. Several causes have been suggested (but not tested) in the literature. Many of these causes are proximate in nature, reflecting behavioral responses to the dramatically changed marriage market conditions for women and men that were induced by war-related declines in adult sex ratios. Based on county-level census data for the German state of Bavaria in the vicinity and aftermath of World War II, we explore the reduced-form relationship between changes in adult and off spring sex ratios. Our results suggest that war-induced shortfalls of men significantly increased the percentage of boys among newborns.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0154.

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Length: 12 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0154
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  1. Angrist, Joshua, 2001. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 368, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2013. "World War II, Missing Men and Out of Wedlock Childbearing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(567), pages 162-194, 03.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2002. "Women, War and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Mid-Century," NBER Working Papers 9013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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